Three Classic Peruvian Recipes, Clausa, Ceviche & Papa Rellena

I haven’t been to Peru yet but I developed a taste for Peruvian food at a guachinche run by Peruvians living on Tenerife. A guachinche is a makeshift and often impromptu ‘restaurant’ that can be found hidden away up tracks that seem to lead to nowhere, or in huge domestic garages and even in the middle of banana plantations. This one was in a large hut tucked away in the centre of a maze of vegetable allotments. The food was wonderfully diverse in both appearance and taste and, as devout foodies, we decided, using tips from our generous Peruvian hosts, to recreate three of the dishes that had wowed our taste-buds.

The recipes are for two people…well the ceviche is for two, the causa and papa rellena recipes could feed four

Ceviche – delicious, marinated fish full of flavour and South American Verve

  • 1 fillet of a firm white fish cut into cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 1 habanero pepper, finely chopped. (we couldn’t get hold of a habanero so use a spicy home grown chilli)
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced.

Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl, leaving out the onion, and mix thoroughly. Add the onion and place in a fridge for a minimum of 3 hours to allow the fish to be ‘cooked’ by the marinade.

There’s a lot of debate about whether you use raw or cooked fish for this and it seems to depend on which South American country’s cuisine you want to recreate. Peru’s is uncooked and that was the way we intended to cook it but the fillet of fish we used was frozen rather than fresh so on this occasion we lightly steamed it for a few minutes fist. Next time it will be better quality fish and it will be raw.

Causa – An artistic take on Spain’s ensaladilla rusa. Easy to make but looks and tastes sensational

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 2 tbsp of ají amarillo paste
  • 1 tbspVegetable oil
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tin of tuna
  • Mayonnaise
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 boiled egg
  • salt

Boil the potatoes until soft, then mash whilst warm. Once they’ve cooled enough to handle add the amarillo paste, vegetable oil, lime juice and a pinch of salt and mix to a smooth consistency.

Line a circular tin (a cake tin is perfect) with a half-inch layer of the potato mixture. Slice the avocado and place on top of the potato to make a second layer. Cover with another layer of potato.

Mix the onion and tuna with a tablespoon of mayonnaise and spread evenly on the potato and then cover with a final layer of potato.

Carefully turn out onto a plate and decorate the top with slices of the boiled egg and a few olives. Serve it like a cake slice – it looks fab.

Note: We didn’t have ají amarillo paste so used a Moroccon spice called ras el hanout which gave the dish its vibrant colour.

Papa Rellena – a savoury bomb of seasoned beef encased in mashed potatoes.

This one worried me as I had visions of the beef filling making a great escape from its potato prison the second it hit the frying pan…but no, it kept its shape beautifully.

  • 1/2kg potatoes
  • I hard boiled egg
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 0.5kg minced beef
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 25g raisins
  • 3 olives
  • 2 small tomatoes, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • flour

Cook the potatoes till soft ( it’s an ideal dish to make with causa as you can cook the potatoes for both at the same time).
Add a pinch of salt and pepper (to suit your own tastes) and the beaten egg. Mix to a pliable dough and leave covered.

Brown the onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil for 2 to 3 minutes then add the chopped garlic. Cook for 30 seconds then add the minced beef and cook till it is browned. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until softened then add the cilantro, raisins, paprika and pepper and season and leave till cool enough to handle.

Separate the potato into four equal measures and roll out into thick circles. Spoon some of the minced beef mixture into the centre (don’t overdo the amount) and work the potato around the mixture until you have a fully enclosed ball.

Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan and when hot, roll the potato balls in flour and fry gently, turning as each section turns golden brown.

This trio of Peruvian dishes is fun to make, great to look at and a delight to eat. They’re a perfect combo for sharing with friends, especially over a few tequila beers. I know tequila beers are Mexican not Peruvian…but any excuse to quaff a few tequila beers should not be missed.




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